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India’s ‘Grass Man’ Grows Lush Habitats For Wildlife

Dr Gajanan D Muratkar is popularly generally known as the ‘grass man of India’ for his pioneering work in habitat and meadow improvement. 

He has been credited with establishing a meadow improvement method wherein discipline workers and officers are concerned in figuring out native grasses, making ready a seed financial institution, creating mom beds, and introducing native grasses systematically to create meadows. 

He has used this method to create meadows in a number of Tiger Reserves and Protected Areas in 12 states throughout the nation. “Grasses,” says the botanist and professor at Sipna Training Society’s Arts, Science and Commerce School at Chikhaldara, Maharashtra, “are the architects and engineers of our forest ecosystem.” 

He has been awarded the Satpuda Panorama Tiger Partnership (SLTP) Conservation Hero Award for his work in grassland conservation efforts within the central Indian panorama.

“I’m a professor and instructing and analysis has all the time been my main obligation. However I’ve discovered my ardour in grasslands improvement work,” says Dr Muratkar.

Grasses — architects of forest ecosystem

Dr Gajanan D Muratkar during a training session.
Dr Gajanan D Muratkar throughout considered one of his coaching classes.

Research on grasses are uncommon in India, says Dr Muratkar, who did his PhD analysis on ‘Ecological and Environmental Examine of Grasses of Melghat Tiger Reserve’. 

“Folks give extra significance to forests than specializing in grasslands, which the truth is are instantly related to wildlife. Grasses play an vital function in soil moisture conservation, water conservation, micro, and macro habitats and are the fundamental producers of the forest ecosystem.” he says. 

“There are mainly two sorts of grasses — mushy and coarse — and three sorts of grasslands or meadows — smaller, intermediate and taller, with every having its personal ecological significance. The smaller grasslands are helpful for grazing habitat, intermediate is for hiding and grazing, and taller grasslands are for breeding, hiding and nestling habitats.”

For that reason, he opines, it’s integral to conduct research and analysis on grasses.

A mannequin replicated in 12 states 

Grasslands are the architects of forest ecosystem.
Grasslands are the architects of the forest ecosystem.

A botany scholar, Dr Muratkar has been working as a professor of environmental science for the previous 25 years. His analysis throughout his PhD was a place to begin for him to discover the scope of grasslands.

“After ending my analysis, I made a decision to work on wildlife habitat administration, which additionally includes grassland improvement, administration, and conservation. It was throughout the identical interval that I used to be assigned a undertaking on the Melghat Tiger Reserve to revive wildlife habitats in areas the place a couple of villages have been rehabilitated,” he recollects. 

With this, Dr Muratkar began his journey in 2008, with changing agricultural lands with invasive species into grassland habitats. This was the place he developed his grasslands improvement method, he says.  

“It includes numerous steps, ranging from learning soil parameters, figuring out grasses and weeds to coaching forest workers and frontline staff in meadow improvement,” he says.

His work at Melghat Tiger Reserve was an enormous success, and his efforts weren’t solely appreciated on a nationwide degree, however have been additionally replicated in different tiger reserves and such protected areas throughout the nation.

Dr Gajanan D Muratkar, training forest staff and frontline workers in meadow development
Dr Muratkar, coaching forest workers and frontline staff in meadow improvement.

“At present, the meadow improvement method has been applied in tiger reserves and guarded areas in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. To date, I’ve labored in 33 out of the 52 tiger reserves within the nation, in addition to in Chitwan Tiger Reserve in Nepal,” says Dr Muratkar, who conducts meadow improvement workshops thrice a 12 months within the tiger reserves, providing hands-on coaching to the workers. He additionally displays the event by visiting the websites as soon as in a couple of months.

In response to him, ignorance of meadow administration actions would have an effect on forests and their inhabitants. “I’m glad that my efforts on meadow improvement have been fruitful. In Palpur Kuno Nationwide Park, the forest workers was capable of develop 2 hectares of grass meadows into 360 hectares after rehabilitating 21 villages, which helped deliver cheetahs to Kuno. Additionally, the Satpura Tiger Reserve has been capable of efficiently develop grasslands underneath my steerage, which finally helped them in bringing swamp deers,” he explains and factors out that the Satpura Tiger Reserve undertaking was essentially the most difficult one, and therefore his favorite.

“Round 52 villages have been rehabilitated for the Satpura Tiger Reserve. In addition to, the topography and panorama of the reserve have been extraordinarily troublesome. However I’m glad that I used to be capable of efficiently flip it round, successful the reserve an award from Nationwide Tiger Conservation Authority for meadow improvement,” he notes. 

Remodeling landscapes 

Dr Gajanan D Muratkar, popularly known as the ‘grass man of India’, in the field along with forest staff.
Dr Gajanan D Muratkar, popularly generally known as the ‘grass man of India’, within the discipline together with forest workers.

“A few of the challenges within the discipline of grassland administration are the invasion of woody tree species, invasion of unique species, the shortage of a correct method for meadow improvement or habitat administration and appropriate funding,” he provides.

He says that as a full-time academician, he was capable of embark on such a journey due to the help and encouragement of his colleagues. “As I work as a professor, I spend my weekends and holidays on my workshops, discipline visits, and coaching. My faculty administration and all of the workers have been supporting me continuously and it retains me going,” he smiles.

Nandkishor Kale, deputy director (core), Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, has identified Dr Muratkar for 10 years. 

He says, “In 2012, whereas I used to be working on the Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve, three villages have been rehabilitated, and that’s once we sought his assist to rework the area right into a grassland. After I took cost on the Tadoba Tiger Reserve, I labored with him for the restoration of grasslands in locations the place villages have been rehabilitated. Since we don’t have many meadows, we wished to transform the village land, for which he helped us immensely.”

He provides, “Dr Muratkar could be very passionate concerning the work he does. He is superb at coaching folks and has a knack for speaking ideas simply to the workers and labourers.”

Speaking about his present initiatives, Dr Muratkar says that he’s working in numerous protected areas of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, and many others. In the present day, he has round 22 college students working underneath him to handle grassland improvement initiatives throughout the nation. 

“I wished to cross this on to the subsequent era. So, I’ve chosen and skilled MSc and PhD college students who’re on this discipline of labor from completely different elements of the nation. I’ve recruited two college students every for each tiger reserve they usually have been working underneath my steerage,” he says.

Edited by Divya Sethu; Picture credit: Dr Gajanan D Muratkar



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